Predictions for 2015

Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future, as Niels Bohr is supposed to have said. I’ve certainly found it so. Apart from the obvious possibility of being wrong, there’s the risk that others will misrepresent you. But, as long as you don’t take it too seriously, it’s helpful to frame discussion around a sharp prediction. So here are three for 2015

1. Peak Oil: I predict that global oil production (conventional and shale etc) will decline in 2015 and will never again reach the peak level of 2014. My reasoning is that 2014 supply can’t be sustained at prices below, say, $75, and (given a downward underlying trend in the developed world), 2014 demand won’t be reached again at prices above $75.

2. The End of Bitcoin: I’ve written in the past that “Bitcoins will attain their true value of zero sooner or later, but it is impossible to say when.” However, I now think the necessary conditions are in place for most holders of Bitcoins to recognise that their asset consists of used-up computation cycles with zero value. In particular, because mainstream merchants now accept Bitcoin (which they immediately sell), it’s possible for hardcore believers to dispose of their holdings without explicitly betting that the price will fall. Of course, the price won’t fall precisely to zero, but it should be well below $100 by the end of the year, and below $10 not long after that.

3. The Paris conference on climate change, will produce a half-baked compromise, which nevertheless represents progress towards stabilization at 2 degrees of warming: OK, this is pretty much a no-brainer, given that this is what we’ve been seeing ever since Kyoto in 1997, but I want to be sure of getting at least one right.

63 thoughts on “Predictions for 2015

  1. Re prediction 3

    The homogenised virtual climate models show a warming of about 2.1 degrees C per hundred years and the satellite readings show about 0.7 degrees C for the same period. The real answer is probably somewhere in the middle(1.4degrees C), so a do nothing compromise will get you less than your “stabilization at 2 degrees of warming” (that is if these alarmists can measure the actual global temperature to within 2 degrees C; which is highly unlikely, as they are forced to construct a homogenised virtual one).

    Oh well we can have a consensus warming of “2 degrees”

    We are reminded of the dangers of consensus science in the past. For example, in the 18th century, more British sailors died of scurvy than died in battle. In this disease, brought on by a lack of vitamin C, the body loses its ability to manufacture collagen, and gums and other tissues bleed and disintegrate. These deaths were especially tragic because many sea captains and some ships’ doctors knew, based on observations early in the century, that fresh vegetables and citrus cured scurvy.

    Nonetheless, the British Admiralty’s onshore Sick and Health Board of scientists and physicians (somewhat akin to the current Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) dismissed this evidence for more than 50 years because it did not fit their consensus theory that putrefaction (or internal decay) caused scurvy, which they felt could be cured by fresh air, exercise and laxatives.

    “Consensus” science that ignores reality can have tragic consequences if cures are ignored or promising research is abandoned. The climate-change consensus is not endangering lives, but the way it imperils economic growth and warps government policy making has made the future considerably bleaker. The recent Obama administration announcement that it would not provide aid for fossil-fuel energy in developing countries, thereby consigning millions of people to energy poverty, is all too reminiscent of the Sick and Health Board denying fresh fruit to dying British sailors.

  2. I predict that someone, somewhere, will publish an explanation of the GFC and its aftermath that is more nearly correct than any other, but no-one will realise.

  3. @ Pheonix
    This is an adroit piece of analysis. To parse: there is a scientific consensus that it is a good idea to try to limit temperature increases to 2 degrees C —- there was once a scientific consensus that turned out to be wrong —- therefore (small leap of faith here) all scientific consensuses are wrong and policies that are informed by them are bogus. Did I miss something??

  4. @phoenix
    Phoenix neglected to add that he plagiarised his post from a WSJ Op Ed by John Christy, who got the basic facts wrong, including the name of the Royal Navy Sick and Hurt Commissioners.
    http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/02/21/3314301/scurvy-wrong-john-christy-climate/
    TL;DR: Lind, the guy who recommended citrus to the Commissioners, also sold them a citrus concentrate of his own devising which had no Vitamin C (because it was boiled to reduce it); the Commissioners tried it, it didn’t work, so they tried other things (e.g. Sauerkraut with James Cook); eventually they tried citrus preserved by a different method, it worked, and the RN became the first navy in the world to mandate consumption of lime juice against scurvy, hence the slang term “Limey” for a British sailor and brits in general.

    That Vitamin C was the curative agent wasn’t conclusively proved until 1932. By the arguments of inactivists like phoenix, the RN should have waited until 1932 to introduce citrus to their men.

  5. @phoenix

    Human beings are fallible and therefore any human judgement may turn out to be incorrect. However, agreement between people, or consensus, does not make them more likely to be incorrect. Also, expertise does not make people more likely to be incorrect; rather the reverse.

  6. Human beings are fallible and therefore any human judgement may turn out to be incorrect. However, agreement between people, or consensus, does not make them more likely to be incorrect. Also, expertise does not make people more likely to be incorrect; rather the reverse.

    If you are engaging with someone who believes X, whose belief in X is manifest in their actions, telling them, “actually, X isn’t true at all” isn’t going to convince them, is it.

    This extends just as much — more so — to misunderstandings about how implication works and the logical/mathematical basis of causation as it does to what colour crows are. If someone isn’t very good at logic, good logic will not convince them. You’ll need to find another approach, or you’ll need to find a way of stopping their conclusions from mattering.

  7. Worse, it looks as if Christy is repeating the “Flat Earth myth” myth. It would be interesting to do a more comprehensive Google search. I bet his sources will be find somewhere in the rightwing blogosphere from which Phoenix just extracted his version of Christy.

  8. I predict that global oil production (conventional and shale etc) will decline in 2015 and will never again reach the peak level of 2014. My reasoning is that 2014 supply can’t be sustained at prices below, say, $75

    No doubt oil will run out eventually, but how do you know that production can’t be sustained through 2015 at $75? The price only needs to be high enough for wells to operate in the black to make it worth continuing production, even if they can’t repay the cost of capital. No doubt the high operating cost wells have taken a hit in capital value from a price of $75 and no new wells will be developed (*), but the only circumstance in which existing wells should shut down is where their operating cost exceeds $75. Do you have any information on how much production has an operating cost higher than $75?

    * This will mean that production will slow eventually but there are probably new wells that have yet to begin production.

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